The Christian Difference – 4

A Pilgrimage Mentality

Research by George Barna and others exposes a sad truth: very few differences distinguish Christians from their fellow-humans. To be blunt, those called-out from the world look a great deal like it.  These articles (of which this is No. 4) are ones man’s effort to review ways in which Christians can be in the world but not of it.

In the beginning, Jesus taught his followers to be visibly different in ways that would bring glory to God[1].  These are not mere distinctions in speech and dress even though as modesty and civility decline, Christians increasingly look, act and speak differently.  As the surrounding darkness deepens, the contrast sharpens.[2] We are unique because we have a pilgrimage mentality. This world is not our home.

Christians are different because our heart, and thus our treasures, are elsewhere.  We are strangers, aliens and pilgrims on the earth.[3]

Western Christians are well-supplied physically.  With some tragic exceptions, we have adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, transportation and medical care.  Still, this ball of dirt and rock is not our home.  We are in transit, on a journey, a pilgrimage; camping here and there, but always seeking a better country.[4]

Some see death as the final destination.  Richard Dawkins writes, “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.”[5] Yes, we do teach this “dangerous” truth.  Christians see death as the depot from which we catch the train for eternity.  All human souls are destined to depart this earth, one way or another.  Christians know this, and have sent their treasures ahead of them for deposit in a place where it can’t rust or rot.

This pilgrim state of mind distinguishes us from those who have no such hope.[6] When a faithful loved one dies, our mourning is tempered by belief that we shall meet again.  When we suffer, we look forward to a healthy, tearless, painless existence after death.  When we weep, we anticipate a place free of sorrow and tears.  Furthermore, since our real treasures are elsewhere, mature Christians place little emphasis on the material.  We try to be content with what we need and no more.[7] Our materially rich brothers and sisters are compassionate and generous.[8]

As beautiful and comfortable as this world is, it is not our home.  Brenda and I love “Charamon,” our earthly home in Abilene.  We have all that we need at Charamon.  We have a place to work, to extend hospitality, big trees, and a huge vegetable garden.  We also love Australia…that sunburnt country and its people.  We have sweet memories there, in many ways our heart is there.  But these places, as beloved as they are, are not our eternal home.  That means our heart resides elsewhere, that our treasures are with our heart in that other place.

We also contemplate the destiny of our fellow-humans.  It is important to us that all men and women have a chance to hear the good news of a better place and a better way of life.  This is why we try to talk to you about Jesus.  We know that, through Him, you can have an abundant, fulfilled life and sweet anticipation of eternal life.  We hope you’ll join our pilgrimage.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2)


[1] Matthew 5:13-16

[2] 1 Peter 4:4

[3] Matthew 6:19-21

[4] Hebrews 11:13-16

[5] Richard Dawkins, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (September 15, 2001)

[6] Ephesians 4:13

[7] I Timothy 6:3-10

[8] I Timothy 6:17-19

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1 Comment

Filed under Atheism/Theism, Eternal Life, Faith, Jesus Christ, Meaning of Life, Supernatural, Theism

One response to “The Christian Difference – 4

  1. von bunge

    This brings to mind a collection of thoughts, but primarily it causes me to be reminded of peace. Of all the things commonly left unrealized in life, peace comes near the top of the list. For Christians, there is an over-arching peace that comes from the knowledge of our “pilgrimage.” I understand that faith in Jesus is certainly not an emotional crutch, even though many critics try to construe it this way. But peace comes from certainty, and because we are certain of our destination, it should allow us to be calmed and peaceful while we serve on earth. What a joyous tenure we can have on earth too, living with the peace gifted by Christ to those who love Him. I submit that this peace also gives way to focus. A peaceful focus…sounds like a book title in the making. Thanks for another meaningful effort in writing Mr. Whitsett!
    Stay strong,
    von Bunge

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